Marine Sgt. Wade Wilson (USMC photo)
CENTERVILLE (October 20, 2012)--A Leon County Marine who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan was honored Friday with the Purple Heart.
Before he died Sgt. Wade Wilson saved two fellow Marines.
"He put everything on the line for us so that we could live," said the fallen marine’s younger sister, Layne.
Wilson, 22, died on May 11 in combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Wilson, who was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, from Camp Pendleton, Calif., was a 2007 graduate of Centerville High School, where he played football and ran track.
It's been six months since Centerville residents gave a final salute to their hometown hero.
"It still doesn't feel realistic," said Layne Wilson.
Layne Wilson, 16, says the reality her brother won't be coming home still quite hasn't settled in; and she admits she's not sure it ever will.
“We love talking about Wade and we're never going to stop talking about Wade,” Wilson added.
"Everyone has been so supportive in this community, it's just amazing."
“When Wade died, it touched this whole community,” said family friend Karen Robeson.
Wilson's story not only touched the entire Brazos Valley, but it also snagged the heart of Taylor Swift.
"He was so in love with Taylor Swift," said Wilson.
In May, the country superstar sent flowers to Wilson's funeral.
"It was neat that she was that interested and that concerned," said Wilson.
Swift even honored her promise of wearing Wilson’s military tags in one of her latest music videos.
“We mailed them [military tags] to her and they kept in contact with us and then they mailed the tags back to us a week-and-a-half later,” Wilson added.
Friday afternoon friends both near and far surrounded the Wilson family as a grieving mother accepted the Purple Heart in honor of her son.
“I think everyone in that courtroom’s heart just hurt for her, and for her children,” said Robeson.
“Every mom wants to hug and kiss that cheek again, and now she won't get that opportunity anymore."
“The Purple Heart means a whole lot to our family,” said Wilson.
“I kind of wished that he didn’t get it so he could still be here with us today, but overall, it just means a lot.”
Memories of the 22-year-old will live on.
"Out of all my other siblings, Wade was always so protective of me,” said Wilson.
So will his legacy, which is now etched in stone.
Wilson's name was added to the memorial wall that's nestled in the courthouse square in Centerville.
"I think when you read the names of all of these heroes, it symbolizes sacrifice, loss, and families." said Robeson.
"Families that have lost someone and families that have sacrificed loved ones for our freedom."
Wilson joined the Marines at the age of 17 and was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.